After a victory over the Philadelphia Eagles in the NFC Divisional Playoffs, the New Orleans Saints (11-6) go on the road to take on the Chicago Bears (14-3) in the NFC Championship Game at Soldier Field this Sunday. It marks the first time in franchise history that the Saints have advanced to the conference championship and will play for the opportunity to go to the Super Bowl.
The Saints defeated the Eagles, 27-24, at the Louisiana Superdome last Saturday. RB Deuce McAllister, the club's all-time leading rusher, had perhaps the finest day of his storied career in New Orleans, running for 143 yards on 21 carries and a touchdown and adding four receptions for 20 yards and another TD.
He carried several defenders into the end zone in the third quarter on a five-yard burst, eventually crossing the goal line without his helmet. The two touchdowns gave McAllister, a six year veteran, 50 for his career. McAllister was the leader of a rushing attack that set a club playoff record with 208 yards against a stout Philadelphia defense.
Rookie sensation RB Reggie Bush had 52 yards on 12 carries and a four-yard touchdown run in the second quarter. Bush, who set an NFL rookie record with 88 receptions in the regular season, added three catches for 22 yards and also returned a trio of punts for 21 yards.
QB Drew Brees, who threw for over 300 yards eight times in 2006 and led the NFL with a team-record 4,418 passing yards, completed 20 of 32 for 243 yards against the Eagles. His passer rating of 96.2 marked the 13th contest of the season where he posted an efficiency of 90.0 or better.
While the efforts of Brees, McAllister, Bush, rookie wide receiver Marques Colston and the rest of what was the NFL's No. 1 ranked offense in the regular season have been well documented throughout 2006, the defense quietly had another strong outing against the Eagles.
The unit stiffened when it mattered most, holding Philadelphia to only three points in the fourth quarter. The Eagles' first march of the final quarter stalled at the New Orleans 4 and they settled for a field goal. Philadelphia's next two drives went three-and-out, including a key possession where the Eagles were forced to punt with 1:56 remaining in the contest after recovering a fumble near midfield. After three rugged runs by McAllister for a first down, Philadelphia would not get the ball back.
Chicago also enters Sunday's contest following a 27-24 win, an overtime victory over the Seattle Seahawks at Soldier Field. K Robbie Gould, who defeated the Saints with a last-second kick in 2005, drilled a 49-yard field goal in overtime to lift the Bears into the NFC Championship Game vs. New Orleans.
The Saints and Bears have played 22 times in the regular season, with the series tied at 11- 11. The two clubs have also met once in the postseason, a Wild Card Playoff at Soldier Field in 1990 that was a 16-6 victory for Chicago.
Check out the Official New Orleans Saints website.
It's going to be cold in Chicago this weekend, but it'll be even colder in hell if we can win the Super Bowl!
The Saints lost to the Bears yesterday. Oh well, I'll be rooting for them next year...
Thanks for a memorable season, Saints...
the closest we've ever come to a Super Bowl!